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Information for Students

Blacksburg, Virginia
Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering

Title: Human Factors Engineering and Ergonomics (MS, PhD)
Est: 1972
Accreditation: HFES
Granted last year: MS 8, PhD 7
Part-time available: yes
Distance learning available: no
HFES student chapter: yes (HFES Student Chapter of the Year, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006)
Program: MS and PhD programs provide in-depth studies of theories, technologies, and applications used in human factors and ergonomics. Foundation courses focus on research; design; human physical, sensory, and cognitive capabilities; and evaluation methods. Other courses focus on application areas including occupational ergonomics, human-computer systems, and macroergonomics. Students follow an approved sequence of foundation and optional courses (curriculum track) that best matches their academic and professional interests. PhD students also take graduate courses in other ISE areas: management systems, manufacturing, and operations research. All students (excepting nonthesis MS) conduct degree research with human participants.
Contact: Grado Department of ISE (0118), Blacksburg, VA 24061; 540/231-5586; (online information,

Deadlines: January 15
Fee: $65

GPA: 3.0
GRE: general test only, average 540 v and 760 q, subject not required
Other: TOEFL 79 ibt for all students not receiving a BS or equivalent degree from an accredited, English-speaking institution. No specific undergraduate degree required, although industrial engineering and psychology are typical. Introductory course in human factors is expected, and courses in computer science, engineering, math, and psychology are recommended.
Research: medium
Work experience: medium
Letters: high

Students applying last year: 45
Accepted: 22
Entered program: 12

Resident: $6186.50/semester
Nonresident: $10698.59/semester

Amount: $1,748-$1,891/month
Available: Fellowships, GTA, GRA, tuition waiver
Apply: with application

MS: 31 units (25 course-related), thesis proposal defense, progress meeting, thesis defense, thesis research, no languages or practical experience, 2 years
Nonthesis option: yes, 31 units course-related, 1.5 years
PhD: 90 units post BS (49 course-related), preliminary exam, dissertation proposal defense, progress meeting, dissertation defense, dissertation research, no languages or practical experience, 2-3 years beyond MS

Courses (units): Students must complete their approved curriculum track with a 3.0 GPA or better. The following courses are available within the ISE Department: Occupational Safety and Hazard Control (3), Human Information Processing (3), Human Factors System Design (3), Human Physical Capabilities (3), Work Physiology (3), Human Factors Research Design (4), Training Systems Design (3), Human Audition and Auditory Display Design (3), System Safety Analysis (4), Industrial Health and Safety Engineering (4), Macroergonomics (3), Usability Engineering (3), Human Factors in Visual Display Systems (3), Human-Computer Systems (3), Special Topics in Human Factors Engineering (3).
Required courses outside department: track-dependent
Recommended courses outside department: track-dependent
Offered: spring, fall
Class size: 10-20

Research facilities: The Human Factors Engineering and Ergonomics program has state-of-the-art, faculty-directed laboratories: Assessment and Cognitive Ergonomics, Auditory Systems, Displays and Controls, Safety Engineering, Human-Computer Interaction, Industrial Ergonomics and Biomechanics, Locomotion Research, Macroergonomics, Vehicle/Aircraft simulation, and User-Centric Innovation in Design. Graduate research assistantships are available.
Teaching: Graduate teaching assistants help faculty with course preparation, grading, lab exercises, group work, and lectures. Senior PhD students occasionally teach an undergraduate course under faculty supervision.
Current research: The research labs directed by faculty support research in many HF/E areas: aging, auditory perception displays, cognitive performance, construction safety and health, consumer product design, health care systems, human-computer interaction, industrial ergonomics, locomotion and balance, musculoskeletal disorders, occupational biomechanics, safety, sociotechnical (macro) systems, training, visual perception, and displays and warnings. Some current projects are biomechanical modeling, collaboration and communication technology, ergonomic guidelines, designing for construction safety and health, flight deck aural alerts, hearing protection, localized muscle and general operator fatigue, speech recognition, sociotechnical issues in design, surface and air transportation, virtual/augmented reality visualization, wearable computing, worker training, and workload assessment.

Active: PhD 36, MS 15
First-year students: 12
Mean scores: n/a

Michael J. Agnew, PhD 2008, Queens University; ergonomics, occupational biomechanics, psychophysics
John G. Casali, PhD 1982, Virginia Tech; product/systems design, acoustics and hearing protection, auditory displays, warning signals, aviation/driving human factors, forensics and litigation
Brian M. Kleiner, PhD 1990, U at Buffalo, SUNY; macroergonomics, computer-supported collaborative work, HF in complex work systems (manufacturing, transportation, health care)
Thurmon E. Lockhart, PhD 2000, Texas Tech U; industrial engineering/biomechanics, locomotion, aging, industrial ergonomics
Maury A. Nussbaum, PhD 1994, U of Michigan; occupational biomechanics, industrial ergonomics, human simulation, fall prevention
Tonya L. Smith-Jackson, PhD 1998, North Carolina State U; cognitive ergonomics, cultural ergonomics, health care informatics, risk perception, safety, training/education, warnings
Woodrow W. Winchester III, PhD 2005, North Carolina A&T State U; human-computer interaction, augmented reality, cognitive ergonomics, affective engineering and design

[Updated March 2011]